AMERICA’S NEW CONCENTRATION CAMPS!

Aug. 3. 2013  By Jack Jodell.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
- Jesus Christ, as quoted in Matthew 25: 45 -

We Americans e like to think of ourselves as belonging to the greatest, most prosperous and civiluzed nation in the history of the world. We proudly refer to ourselves as belonging to a “Christian nation” and display our supposed adherence to the Christian religion as proof of our superior. divinely-inspired  enlightenment. We view Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, whom we soundly defeated in 1945, as having been aggressive, vicious barbarians wholy unfit to rule western civilization. It was Hitler, you may recall, who was responsible for the greatest mass genocide in all history, having put to death millions upon millions of innocent European Jews in a blind fury of senseless rage, sheer arrogance, and unfounded prejudice. He did this by forcibly rounding up those Jews and then resettling them in large concentration camps where they were very soon brutally murdered.

I maintain that present-day America is NOT all that morally superior to Nazi Germany, and that we, too, have been sentencing millions of innocent people to our new form of concentration camp: NEEDLESS ABJECT POVERTY!

True, we have not rounded up our poor and embarked on a campaign to murder them. But there are many, many ways other than outright murder to kill a person in this country. (Just as some salespersons can be robbers without a gun, and instead use only a briefcase). We can deliberately underpay a person, fire him or her for attempting to unionize their place of work, or deny him or her access to something they truly want or need. We can and often do understaff our businesses, causing workers to run themselves ragged. We can and often do discriminate against others based on their appearance, race, or creed. We can bully or humiliate them. We can and many times do discourage them from entering our communities and neighborhoods (just like what was done with Teayvon Martin before he was trailed and then viciously shot). We can and often do discourage them from voting. Worst of all, we shun poor people and push them aside to make them live in ghettos or tenement housing, deliberately setting them apart from the rest of society. Conservative, reactionary Republicans and their heartless Tea Party allies like Lyin’ Paul Ryan push to eliminate large chunks of the social safety net and try to force a ridiculous, unjust, and fully unneeded austerity budget on the country which will drastically affect our poorest citizens. How a grown man like Ryan, himself a former Social Security recipient, can still naively cling to the largely discredited crazy economic ideas of Ayn Rand is way beyond my comprehension! For all of these actions help kill an innocent person’s spirit, sense of self-worth, dignity, and dreams. It is a cruel assault on a poor person’s right to pursue happiness. Each, in its own demeaning way, is an insidious act of character assassination; a murder of the soul.

These are America’s new concentration camps: abject poverty. Unlike those which existed in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe from 1939-1945, they are, for the most part, borderless and exist in a shapeless world of societal prejudice. Yet they are very real and every bit as demoralizing and deadly. We should be ashamed that they are found within our borders. There is simply no justification whatsoever for a country as loaded with vastly overpaid pro athletes, media personalities, bankers, and corporate executives as we are to have the rising rate of poverty we are seeing today. Vastly UNDERPAID fast food workers in a number of major U. S. cities have just launched a strike for a livable wage of $15 per hour, and I strongly support and encourage them in their efforts! Of course, cold-hearted, ignorant, fat cat millionaires like Sean Hannity of Fox “News” apparently take great delight in looking down on these workers, and tell insulting lies about how increasing their wages that much would double the consumer cost of a Big Mac, when university studies have shown the cost would only go up by 68 cents. Meanwhile, he fails to say anything about how McDonalds and other fast food providers make millions in record profits off of the labor of their captive labor force.  It is our moral obligation to take action IMMEDIATELY to relieve this utterly senseless and needless poverty and put a stop to this utter exploitatuin! We must act NOW to reduce the preposterous level of disparity in wealth we have in this country today. Until we accomplish this leveling-out of incomes, we are being nothing more than complacent foot-soldiers of greedy capitalists compounding rather than solving the problem, and we are as blind and morally depraved as were the Nazis who failed to act against their own government’s murderous madness during World War II!  We are a far better people than this.  Let’s start behaving like it! 

Posted in commentary, conservative Republicans, corporate greed, Fox "News", labor unions, reactionary Republicans, Tea Party, wealth disparity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A NEW ECONOMIC SYSTEM IS BADLY NEEDED! (Part Two)

July 30, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

The needs of the many far outweigh the wants of the few.”
- Star Trek’s Mr. Spock -

It is undeniable to all fair-minded, thinking persons that our current form of welfare-state capitalism has proven itself to be horribly inadequate for the needs of  the majority of its citizens; has greatly favored the wealthiest mere 1% at the expense of the majority 99% below them; and has been viciously neglectful toward the very real needs of the poorest of those in our midst. It is inexcusable for wealthy bankers and corporate CEOs to lavish themselves with record-high compensation packages and bonuses rather than making readily available,  badly-needed funds which they alone control or influence,  unable to be had by smaller banks for purposes of starting new, job-creating businesses. If this is “capitalism”, then let me the hell out!

With the rich continually getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and with the middle class shrinking due to rising costs and stagnant or dropping wages, and with the overwhelming majority of the gains made from record productivity increases going almost exclusively to the very wealthiest members of our society, it is abundantly clear that some form of drastic change is definitely needed, and SOON! This nonsense about “free market economics” is a MYTH: the only “freedom” it offers is for the business owner, and certainly NOT for the laborer or the consumer!

g.k. chestertonhilaire bellocAs I discussed in part one, this unpleasant state of affairs was anticipated in the late 19th century, over 100 years ago. Oddly enough, it was Roman Catholic prelates like Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI, together with Catholic writers and philosophers like G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc who advocated the creation of a third way, different from communism or socialism on one hand and capitalism on the other, to provide distributive justice for the people (workers) whose labor actually produced the wealth that the wealthy greedily grabbed and kept for themselves. They called this alternative to communism and capitalism
d
istributism.

Distributism differs from cpmmunism and socialism in that it allows for the existence of private property and private ownership. whereas those other two allow only collective or state-run ownership. It differs from modern-day capitalism in that it calls for the private ownership of productive capacities to be in as many hands as possible, rather than in just one person’s or a corporate board of directors’ hands. It advocates a far more equal distribution of productive wealth than we see today. It also encourages patronizing and developing smaller, local businesses rather than the larger, multinational corporate variety whenever possible (i.e. whatever can be produced by a smaller unit should not be done by a larger one). We have already begun heading in this direction, with the noticable increases in co-ops and credit unions, both of which are far more responsive to local wants and needs than huge grocery chains or giant banks are. Pope Leo XIII stated that all charitable work should be centered in the Catholic Church rather than be concentrated elsewhere. I disagree, and maintain that programs like food stamps, general assistance, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. should continue to be run and administered by the government, ESPECIALLY during this age of ever-rising costs and continually-dwindling enrollment and participation in the Catholic church. Not only that, but the undesirable way the institution of the Church mishandled its problem with pedophiliac ptiests makes me uneasy about the prospect of them being the sole distributors of charitable funds for the needy.

Distributism has many critics. Some refer to it as being utopian, and I suspect they are arguing from a complacent, uncaring position of comfort they don’t wish to see changed. Others are diehard capitalists, many of whom I suspect are idealistic wannabe petite-bourgeosie, who naively believe they will one day become fabulously wealthy themselves and want no interference on their way to getting there. Others ridicule its preference for smaller over bigger or for local over multinational. Regardless, the many successful worker-cooperatives found in Italy’s Emilio Romagna region or Spain’s Mondragon prove that distributism is not a silly pipe dream and does, in fact, have some merit!

I do not view distributism as a be-all and end-all solution for our economic problems. But I DO believe it, or a least some hybrid form of it, is worth our study and possibly even omplementation as an antidote to the ungodly economic mess we find ourselves in presently. We are being smothered with corporate excess commercialism and our government and business community has been devoured by self-interest and  greed. As a result, government efficiency has plummeted and dissolved into a murky sea of dysfunction. Meanwhile, our productive capacity is not being fully or properly utilized; our bridges, roads, and electronic infrastructure are crumbling daily; and the rich just keep getting richer and are doing little to justifiably earn their riches. It is simply unsustainable, and must NOT last any longer!

Ever since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, conservatives have pushed us to view government with suspicion and to think of ourselves rather than others, golden rule be damned. We can no longer afford to be so ignorantly apathetic. I note that, only a few days ago, Pope Francis exhorted 3 MILLION young Catholics on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,  to end selfish behavior and to pursue social justice. This was a refreshing departure from the kind of attempting-to-legislate-morality messages the Vatican has been engaged in for the past 40 years, and I welcome and support it. Perhaps one way we can begin to implement more social justice is  by adopting several of the principles of distributism into our economic practice. It would sure go a long way toward ending our horrible wealth disparity and achieving economic justice, and I would support that 100%! For further reading on distributism, Google The Distributist Review and read its many fine articles. 

UP NEXT: “AMERICA’S NEW CONCENTRATION CAMPS!”           

Posted in "free market" economics, capitalism, commentary, conservative Republicans, corporate greed, economics, Politics, special interests, the 1%, THE MAJORITY 99%, wealth disparity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A NEW ECONOMIC SYSTEM IS BADLY NEEDED! (Part One)

July 25, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

Most of us in the western world have been literally brainwashed into believing that capitalism is the best and fairest economic system ever devised. Indeed, we have been led to believe it is the ONLY economic system worth even considering, and the terms socialism or communism are considered unacceptable alternatives, and that capitalism is the be-all and end-all of economic systems. 

I DISAGREE COMPLETELY, AND OVER THE NEXT FEW POSTS IN THIS SERIES, I SHALL EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHY.

We have been socially conditioned to think mainly in terms of back or white as well as either-or. Our corporate-owned mass media has been notorious in presenting the news in such a dumbed-down fashion. This, I believe, is foolishly simplistic, disastrously limiting,  and leads us to many wrong conclusions. For any rational, intelligent, thinking adult knows that life consists mainly of varying degrees of GRAY as well, and that black and white comprise but a small part of actual reality. Only a daffy absolutist would deny this very basic truth. This is especially true in the field of rconomics.

Many people erroneously believe that the United States is a capitalist country. That is incorrect, in that we actually live in what may be more accurately termed a social welfare state. For, as our country and its economy have evolved, we have found it necessary to place much-needed limits and regulations on various industries and a few powerful, wealthy  individuals, to protect average everyday citizens and especially  workers from the excesses of those groups. If the United States were truly and fully capitalist, there would be no labor unions, no overtime pay, no health or safety standards, no minimum wage, no Social Security, no Medicare or Medicaid, no welfare, no provisions for the handicapped or elderly, and no federal protection for your bank deposits, Our air, ;akes, rivers, streams, and oceans would all be hopelessly polluted and toxic, and our lives would be completely miserable and not at all pleasant, except for the very wealthiest few, in whose hands all power would reside. It would be a Libertarian’s or Tea Partiers’ dream, but all the rest of us would be living in a literal nightmare world of despondency. That is why, like it or not, rules and regulations amending pure capitalism came into being and were imposed by the federal government, in order to ensure the health and welfare of ALL the people!

The recent technological advancements made in the late 20th – early 21st century (the widespread adoption of the personal computer, and the creation of  the internet and its related social media networks) has gad a massive impact on people’s lives (the full extent of which won’t be fully known for some time to come). The Industrial Revolution, which began in 1760 and lasted well into the mid-1800s had a similar wide-ranging effect on the people of that time. Goods became easier and quicker to produce, and the steam engine plus great advancements in mining and metallurgy spurred a tremendous amount of economic activity and resultant wealth for the small cadre of businessmen and bankers who managed to capitalize on it. Very little of this newly-created wealth ended up in the hands of the workers or peasants whose long hours of labor had actually oroduced it, and they continued to barely eke out a miserable living, trapped in the horribly primitive working conditions and long, long working hours they were forced to endure. Widespread crop failures during 1846 exacerbated the miseries of the peasants and lowly-paid workers, and eventually culminated in a series of revolutions all across Europe during 1848.1848 revolutions  

marxOut of this chaos emerged Karl Marx, a brilliant philosopher and journalist who became known as  the father of modern Communism.  With his partner Friedrich Engels, he produced a series of thought-provoking books and papers which correctly analyzed the predatory and exploitive tendencies of mid 18th century capitalism. Among these were The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. He amazingly proved to be an excellent diagnostician of the evils of capitalism, but, of course, was unable at that time to foresee the welfare-state changes to capitalism that future leaders like Otto von Bismarck or Franklin D. Roosevelt (among many others) would make. These changes modified capitalism and made it fairer and somewhat more palatable to the vast masses of peasants and working people, actually providing for the emergence of a fairly prosperous middle class. Marx, of couse, advocated the overthrow of the capitalist system, and called for it to be replaced by a dictatorship of the proletariat (working people), until eventually what he described as true communism would emerge (“from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”). Marx also dismissed religion as being “the opiate of the people”. When Vladimir Lenin seized control of Russia in 1917, he established the world’s first Communist state. Both he and his immediate successor, Josef Stalin, then embarked on a crusade to close down churches, murder or imprison their clergy and all perceived political opponents, abolish all private property, and impose strict censorship on the press. Subsequent leaders in Russia and also in other, later Communist-led countries like China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba, and the Russian-dominated nations of eastern Europe all followed this model, and their extremist social control and sreict, unyielding economic centralism alarmed the capitalist countries. A long and bitter Cold War ensued. On one side were the communists, and on the other were the welfare-state capitalists together with  the Christian churches. This continued until the collapse of world communism in the early 1990s. After that, the capitalists became emboldened, which has ;ed to our present abysmal state of stagnating wages, a record disparity in wealth between richest and poorest, severe weakening of labor unions, exploitation of cheap foreign labor via outsourcing, and growing calls for such reactionary actions as eliminating the minimum wage and abolishing other time-honored, necessary social welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

pope leo xiiiThis current state of economic affairs was actually forseen only a few decades  after Marx had issued his publications. Oddly enough, it was Roman Catholic Pope Leo XIII who, in 1891, issued an encyclical called  Rerum Novarum (i.e. “of revolution – the rights of capital and labor”). This unprecedented document laid out the Church’s official stand on the respective duties of capital and labor,  citing the need for finding a way to end “the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class” and actually advocated the right of labor to form unions! Additionally, it rejected both communism and unrestricted capitalism.   Moral theologians had long been disturbed by the extremes inherent in both the capitalist and communist economic models. They were obviously displeased with the atheistic overtones gushing from applied Marxism, and found its practice of slaughtering political or economic opponents and applying severe repression to its captive populations to be very abhorent. They were displeased, too, with its abolition of private property. They were also disenchanted with the way that capitalism seemed to exploit workers and ignore the poor as it continually and obsessively pursued profit above all else. They saw massive injustices being carried out routinely. They were concerned that this profit was going into far too few wallets, and they saw a definite need for a kind of distributive justice. Clearly, there had to be a better way, or a third way, that in practice and outcome would prove to be a viable alternative to both communism and capitalism. So was born the notion of a new economic theory called distributism.

IN PART TWO (coming in a few more days) I’LL COVER DISTRIBUTISM as well as critique it.                  .

Posted in capitalism, commentary, corporate greed, economics, History, labor unions, libertarians, Politics, Progressives, Tea Party, wealth disparity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

FREE SPEECH TV FOR YOU AND ME!

July 21, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

As those who have followed this blog for some time are well aware, I have justifiably berated our pathetic and childish mainstream media for many years. Their shallowness, repetitiveness, and propensity for featuring sensationalism and spectacle over fact and accuracy  are indefensible. So is their corporatist right-of-center bias. So is the way they are literally flooding us with a record level of nonstop, misleading, and nauseating commercials. (I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of being swamped with health insurance ads, Geico or Progressive home and auto insurance ads, lying BP ads,  Viagra, Cialis, and “Super Beta Prostate” ads, Ford, Chevy, and Dodge Ram truck ads, deceittful bank ads, lying BP and other oil company ads, Budweiser and Coors beer ads, and constant and very annoying Nutri Systems weight reduction ads, ad nauseum)!

With utterly ridiculous offerings like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on – of all places – The Learning Channel (sorry, TLC, but this fat, stupid little girl and her equally stupid redneck family have absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with LEARNING); Swamp People or Ice Road Truckers on the once intelligent and vital, but now patently idiotic History Channel (sorry, network programmers, but these abominations contain very little, if any, useful historical fact and thus serve no useful purpose); Bizarre Foods and Man vs. Food Nation on The Travel Channel (whatever became of useful, informative programming dealing with specific countries or geographical regions around the world?)  – it is a miracle Americans can think straight at all anymore! With perpetual dumbing – down like this, it is no wonder that corporatism has made such tremendous headway in recent years or that such an ignorant and destructive force as the Tea Party has come into being! American television has regretfully devolved from intelligent programming to an overabundance of White Trash ignorance and utter garbage. By continually pandering to the lowest common denominator, American television has successfully lowered itself into the realm of sheer idiocy. This devolution has forced me to search for suitable alternatives. First, I was enchanted by LINK TV, a fully non-commercial. entirely viewer-supported network based in San Francisco. It helped turn me on to fantastic shows like Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now and fabulous documentaries like The Corporation.  It gave viewers access to important and relevant speakers on the left like Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, and Noam Chomsky as well as to learn about the late, great Howard Zinn. Now, an equally fully independent, non-commercial. and completely viewer-supported network has begun broadcasting in my area: Free Speech TV! (I thank S. W. Anderson of the brilliant blog Oh!pinion for originally drawing my attention to this network back at a time when I couldn’t get it here. I hope he returns to blogging again soon)!

This amazing network features a lot of great programming, like the Thom Hartmann Show, Democracy Now, The David Pakman Show, plus tremendously informative programs like Who Rules America (which examines our greedy Power Elite) and outstanding documentaries like  Genetic Roulette, which gives reasons for the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among kids, plus The War You Don’t See, which shows  he personal affects that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had on the soldiers that fought them. as well as Plastic Planet, which demonstrates the global threat both to the environment and to human health this common, everyday substance now poses.

Readers, just like with LINK TV, this FREE SPEECH TV is commercial-free (what a relief!) and dis eservubg of our support and viewersjip. Because they both feature intelligent, factual ptogramming, they are a very soothing and refreshing alternative to their horrible corporatist “mainstream” media counterparts. You will be glad to see some faces and discussions here that you will NEVER see on corporate-owned television!As far as news goes, you won’t find yourself exposed to any Fox “News”- style far-right reactionary propaganda, nor will you encounter any sae, middle-of-the-road bland CNN swill, nor will you see any corporate Democratic fare like some of the MSNBC staff puts forth. Instead, you will be treated to some truly independent free-thinkers who provide much thought-provoking information. It will definitely be a breath of fresh air!

For your convenience, here are the channel numbers for both networks:


LINK TV can be found at DIRECTV ch. 375 and DISH Network ch. 9410

FREE SPEECH TV is on DIRECTV ch. 348, DISH ch. 9415, Burlington Telecom ch. 122, and Ashland Home Net ch. 96.

You can also view some of their stuff on Facebook or by going to YouTube. Should your carrier not be offering these channels, call them up and demand that they start doing so immediately! Leave the insanity of corporate-owned commercial TV and get a healthy dose of sanity in the commercial-free variety. Let’s make it Free Speech TV for you and me, shall we? ENJOY! :-)                                                            

          

            
Posted in alternative news media, Amy Goodman, commentary, corporate greed, corporatist, Democracy Now!, Democratic Party, Fox "News", LINK TV, Lying TV ads, Politics, Progressives, reactionary Republicans, Tea Party, Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans, Thom Hartmann | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

THE “SAME OLD, SAME OLD” NO LONGER CUTS IT!

July 17, 2013  By Jack Jodell.

BABY BPEHNERThis country is tired of politicians continually playing it safe. It kas had its fill of those who choose to pander to their base while actually doing nothing to address the nation’s most pressing needs. Take GOP House Speaker John Boehner for example. Since mid-2010 he has been insisting that “Jobs are the first priority”, yet he has opposed every single congressional effort to formulate and pass a Federal Jobs bill! In his effort to please his party’s despicably ridiculous, reactionary, anti-government Tea Party faction, he has neglected not only his campaign pledge to create new jobs, but the needs of the people who elected him and who pay his salary as well. He has done this merely to hang onto hid personal power. Meanwhile, despite the so-called “improvement” in the economy, millions of Americans remain unemployed or UNDERemployed, and that is simply and totally unacceptable. This is not strength of leadership; rather. it is self-serving weakness! Where are all the good-paying jobs you promised, Boehner?

obama on attackNow let’s consider President Ibama. In many respects, he may correctly be considered as an error-prone, .129 average banjo-hitter who has failed to get the job done many times over. When a strong line drive homer is needed to drive in key runs, he typically hits a weak pop fly or strikes out altogether. Rather than trying to dominate or control Congress as successful Presidents like Reagan, LBJ, or FDR did, he has shied away from that tactic completely. Recently re-elected by a strong margin, he has for the most part remained aloof from Congress and his meager attempts to engage them have been clumsy and feeble – too little, and too late. The steamroller effect of Tea Party-inspired obstruction has all but flattened him, and he has contributed to his own destruction in other ways. His first mistake was to  stock his Cabinet with so many Bush-era Wall Street holdovers like Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke. Doing so guaranteed favorable treatment for Wall Street scoundrels and ensured that Wall Street would be well provided for, but Main Street would be neglected. His second grievous error was to waste pecious time courtong  congressional Republicans, when in fact they despised him and everything he stood for. Dozens of his federal appointments remain umconfirmed due to deliberate Republican congressional obstruction, and he sits, powerlessly unable to do anything about it. He has failed in his attempt to close down the nototious Guantanamo prison camp; has failed to get meaningful gun control legislation passed, and appears headed for failure in his attempt to get important immigration legislation passed too. He has failed to arouse fear throughout Congress, and, as a result, is not respected by them and has been relegated to mere caretaker status, with nearly a full second term to go. It is a woeful case of blown advantages and missed opportunities, mainly because he refused to actually fight for his agenda. What’s more, he is nowhere near close to the supposed “Socialist” many on the deluded fringe on the far-right claim him to be. For the most part, he has been dusappointingly moderate  and centrist (although you’ll never get any crazy, fanatical  Tea Partier to admit it).

mcconnellLet us not overlook the king of Senate Republican obstruction: the pathetically feeble-minded, wholly self-serving Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. What a poor piece of work this jerk has been! He has adapted  and deliberately misapplied the filibuster to virtually every piece of Senate legislation, holding up and stalling federal appointments, needlessly wasting Senate time, shamefully wasting MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars on the process, and making a mockery of the Senate as the world’s greatest deliberative body. He has spent a huge amount of his time politicking, and precious little of it governing or actually earning his very bloated paycheck. He has performed more like a lazy, sleeping  janitor than an active, concerned Senator. Instead of tending to Senate business, this constipated old joker has been wasting his time attacking perceived political opponents and obstructing important legislation. He is a destructive force within our government, and a disgrace to the Senate!

wimpy harry reidLast, but definitely not least, is the weak and limp-wristed Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. Judging by the wimpy way he speaks and “argues” his points, it is very hard to believe he was once a noted boxer. For the political punches he has thrown have been as soft and light as cotton balls and have had the impact of a mere feather. He has failed to overcome McConnell’s preposterous fillibusters, and has failed to muster up enough Senate support to pass much-needed gin control legislation, even in the wake of the recent horrible Sandy Hook elementary school shootings, and with strong support from Vice President Joe Biden. What this country needs in the Srnate today is a strong fighter – not a feather duster.

The Tea Party MUST be voted out of office, along with the current far-right, extremist members of the now reactionary Republican Party! They all want to return the country back to the 1890s, when robber barons unquestioningly ran the show. They wish to overturn all the important, pro-worker and pro-people social and economic progress which has been attained since the progressive eras of Teddy Roosevelt and Franlin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.  They are attempting to destroy the middle class and put even more wealth into the hands of the already far-too-piggishly-wealthy uberrich.

I’ve said it many times before, and I will keep repeating it until it becomes a reality: WE MUST STOP ELECTING FAR-RIGHT, TEA PARTY-INFESTED REACTIONARY REPUBLICANS to all levels of government! If you want government to actually work as it should (for the benefit of ALL the people – not just the well-connected and privileged few), then start replacing those backward-looking types with PROGRESSIVE candidates! Join the PROGRESSIVE VOTERS OF AMERICA! The “same old, same old” rut we’ve been in no longer cuts it, and this great nation deserves FAR better!                

Posted in commentary, corporatist, economics, extremists, Politics, Progressives, Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans, wealth disparity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A REFRESHING NOTE FROM A TRUE PROGRESSIVE!

July 11, 2013  By Jack Jodell. 

I received what you see below in a recent email from U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, (I- VT), one of the few remaining wholly uncompromised public servants who are still left in our governnent. I am reprinting nearly all of his message below. Wherever you see italics, those are mine. The words you read below could very well have been written by me as I very much agree with Sen. Sanders and strongly support his efforts on behalf of all of us!    

bernie s.“Thank you very much for the help that you provided me in my recent re-election campaign as Vermont’s senator. With your support we were able to mount a vigorous grass-roots campaign and win a strong victory last November.

As the longest serving Independent in the history of the U.S. Congress I
want to take this opportunity to tell you about some of the issues I’ve been focusing on since my re-election. I also want to discuss with you my plans for the future and how we can best work together to address the huge policy and political crises our nation faces. As we go forward, our simple and straightforward demand must be that Congress and the White House start responding to the needs of ordinary Americans — not the big money nterests.

You know as well as I what’s going on in our country today. The rich get richer while the middle-class continues to disappear. The multi-national corporations enjoy record-breaking profits, while unemployment remains sky-high and more and more Americans slip into poverty. And, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision the billionaire class has gained even more political power while, at the same time, right-wing governors are making it harder for low-income people to vote.

There is only one way we can turn this economic and political disaster around. And that is by helping to create a strong grass-roots movement
in all 50 states, and by working hard to elect progressive candidates at the
local, state and national level.
That is what my leadership PAC, the
Progressive Voters of America, is trying to do. There is no shortage of
billionaires willing to bankroll extreme right-wing candidates.  We have to
respond.   I am asking now for your help to expand this effort.

It will take a concerted, long-term commitment to bring our message to all corners of the country. Please support our progressive grass-roots movement and donate as generously as possible today.

Now, let me tell you about some of the issues I am working on in the Senate.  At the same time, let me make it clear that far too often there is a resounding lack of support for these and other efforts which protect the interests of the middle class.  That is why we desperately need more progressives, not just in the Senate, but in every level of government.

Social Security:
As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus I have played a leadership role in preventing cuts to Social Security — the bedrock of our social safety net. Sadly, President Obama has joined virtually every Republican, some Democrats and almost all Wall Street CEOs in support of a so-called “chained CPI” which would make significant reductions in Social Security COLAs for seniors and disabled veterans. In my view, we must not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our country. We must not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Tax Reform:
At a time when the United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country, I have introduced and sponsored several pieces of legislation which would ask the rich and corporate America to start paying their fair share of taxes. One bill that I wrote would end the ability of corporate America to stash hundreds of billions of dollars in tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and elsewhere, and avoid paying taxes on their profits.

Wall Street:
I am also a co-sponsor of legislation that would impose a Wall Street financial
transaction tax on the sale of derivatives, credit default swaps and large
amounts of stock.  Wall Street greed, illegal behavior and speculation helped
drive this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  With Wall Street speculators today making huge profits, while continuing to endanger the stability of the world’s financial system, they must begin paying their fair share of taxes.  With the six major Wall Street financial
institutions larger today than they were before they were bailed out, having
assets equivalent to two-thirds of our GDP, I have also introduced legislation
to break up these huge financial entities.

Jobs:
Despite what you may read in the newspapers, real unemployment today is not 7.6 percent. Counting those people who are working part-time or who have given up looking for work, real unemployment is over 14 percent and even higher for young people and people of color. We need a major jobs program to put our people back to work. As part of the recently passed Immigration Reform Bill I was able to get an amendment included which would create a 2 year jobs program for more than 400,000 young people. This is a start, but much, much more needs to be done. I am actively supporting legislation which would rebuild our crumbling
infrastructure — roads, bridges, rail, water plants, wastewater systems,
airports, schools. Investing in our infrastructure would not only make America more productive, it would create millions of jobs.

Global Warming:
As a member of both of the environmental and energy committees I am fighting hard to address the planetary crisis of global warming. Along with Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Environmental Committee, I introduced the most sweeping global warming legislation in congressional history. This bill would impose a tax on carbon, make massive investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy and protect those who might be hit with higher fuel bills. This bill, by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel, would also create a significant number of new jobs.

Civil Liberties:
As one of the few members of Congress to have consistently
voted against the USA Patriot Act, I am going to do everything in my power to end the attacks we have seen against our civil liberties and constitutional rights. In my view it is absurd, and unconstitutional, for the government of the United States to track virtually every phone call made in this country. That is not what “freedom” and “liberty” are about. I have introduced legislation which would amend Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act to make sure that the intelligence agencies go after those who wish to harm our country, not keep tabs on the 99.99 percent of Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism.

Civil Rights:
In recent years we have made some real progress in expanding gay rights. As someone who voted against DOMA when I was a member of the House, I was very pleased that the Supreme Court recently overturned that very bad law. I am proud that Vermont has been a leader on gay rights and I intend to continue fighting for equal rights for all Americans — regardless of sexual orientation, gender, disability or country of origin. And that includes voting rights!

We must also be mindful that a full-scale attack is underway in a number of conservative states to deny women the right to choose and to defund women’s health organizations like Planned Parenthood. Women have fought too hard for too long to see basic rights they have secured taken away from them. Congress must stand tall in defending women’s rights.

I have given you a brief overview of some of the issues
that I have been working on in the Senate. Now, let me say a few words about
politics — how we get to where we want to be — and how we can elect people at
all levels of government who represent the needs of ordinary Americans, not the top 1 percent.

As you know the Republican Party, once a moderate-conservative party, has become a right-wing extremist party. With the help of the Koch brothers and their other corporate sponsors, Republicans in Congress are now trying to roll back virtually every piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years which protects the needs of working families. Whether it is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition, child care, tax policy, women’s rights or workers’ rights, the main function of Congressional Republicans is to protect the interests of the wealthyand powerful against the middle class. They have also become an anti-science party — rejecting the research of virtually the entire scientific community regarding the planetary crisis of global warming.

Poll after poll tells us that today’s Republican ideology — tax breaks for billionaires and massive cuts to important social programs — is way out of touch with what the American people want. And yet, Republicans stand likely to retain control over the U.S. House in 2014, have a chance to become a majority in the U.S. Senate and are doing well in state elections. Why is that? How is it that a party with such an extremist ideology has not been relegated to marginal status in American political life?

All of which brings me to the Democrats.
While the Republicans have moved from a center-right party to a
right-wing extremist party, the Democrats have also moved to the right — going from being a center-left party to a centrist party. This means that

while they attempt to address the needs of trade unions, seniors, low income
Americans, environmentalists, women, students, minorities and the gay community, they also pay a great deal of attention to Wall Street, the wealthy, corporate America and their big campaign contributors. Needless to say, these competing forces have irreconcilable differences.

In my view, the great crisis of American politics today is the demoralization of the American people and their belief that virtually no one in Washington is fighting for the collapsing middle-class. In 2009, after eight disastrous years of George W. Bush as president, the Democrats controlled the White House and had large majorities in the House and Senate. Where was the simple, straight-forward legislation that took on the insurance companies and provided health care to all, that ended Wall Street domination of our economy, that created the many millions of jobs we desperately needed, that made college affordable, that allowed America to become the world leader in reversing global warming? Where was the political offensive which made clear to all Americans that the Democrats were fighting for working families while the Republicans were the party of Wall Street and the big money interests?

Now, in 2013, the Democrats control the White House and the Senate but it appears to many Americans that the Republicans determine the agenda. Why hasn’t there been a major effort to overturn Citizens United and move toward public funding of elections? Why has almost all of the recent emphasis been on deficit reduction, rather than creating the millions of jobs we desperately need? Why is anybody in the Democratic Party (least of all the
President) talking about cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled
veterans? Where is the outrage regarding the massive NSA surveillance practices recently revealed?

Clearly, what is needed right now is a massive grass-roots movement which fights for the needs of working families and which elects progressives at the national, state and local level. We should not accept the conventional wisdom of a red state/blue state America. There is no state in this country which is not heavily populated by working families. And they all need strong and effective representation to stand up to the billionaire class which dominates our economic and political life.

Please help me work with Americans all over this country in helping to build a
progressive movement which elects strong candidates, at every level of
government, who are prepared to change our national priorities and fight for
working people.  Please donate to Progressive Voters of America
today.

Please tell us about progressive candidates in your state or community that we should be working with.

These are tough times for our country. Let’s go forward together. Thanks for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Bernie
Senator Bernie Sanders

P.S. Your early support of Progressive Voters of America is critical to electing a more progressive Congress and electing progressive candidates at all levels of government. Please donate as generously as possible today.
==========================================================
Readers, the choice is abundantly clear. We can either accept the status quo and go along with the horrible obstruction and corruption the Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans and their timid Democratic cohorts have given us, or we can FIGHT IT tooth and nail by joining Bernie Sanders to elect a progressive majority in 2014!

We must no longer let Bernie Sanders be one small, lonely voice out there fighting our battles for us. Instead, let us join him and contribute to his very noble, very needed, and very just cause. CONTRIBUTE TODAY! 

Posted in commentary, conservative Republicans, corporate greed, corporatist, Democratic Party, economics, extremists, Politics, Progressives, reactionary Republicans, regulation, special interests, taxes, Tea Party, Tea Party-infested reactionary Republican Party, Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans, the 1%, THE MAJORITY 99% | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

WHY AND HOW THE SUPREME COURT REALLY MATTERS!

July 6, 3013  By Jack Jodell.

Our Founding Fathers blessed us with a revolutionary form of government; one that has withstood challenges both from within and without for more than 237 years. It has endured through many wars and economic crises. Part of the reason it has lasted so long has been the fact that these Founding Fathers wisely imbued it with a system of checks and nalances by creating three separate, but fully equal, branches of government. Each of these, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial, were given distinct powers and responsibilities, and each was prevented from attaining absolute power by the counterbalancing powers invested in the other branches. Our very wise founders even foresaw that changes may have to be made in future times, so they provided us with a Bill of Rights and the ingenious ability to amend our Constitution, if and when the need would ever arise.

Our government, composed of fallible human beings, has never – and will never be – perfect. It has made a great many mistakes over its lifetime, but at least it has proven to be malleable and therefore open to changes that passing time or events have made necessary.

u,s, court systemThis is a chart showing our Judicial system. You will notice that the U.S. Supreme Court stands at the very top, and that other, lesser courts can feed into it. At the very bottom of this chart sits our local trial courts. As  decisions in each court are rendered, they are able to be appealed to the next highest court if one or more of the plaintiffs or defendants  disagree with that decision or wish to have a further clarification made. This next court has the power to either uphold the original decision, refute it, or simply refuse to even consider the appeal at all, thereby allowing the original decision to stand and remain in effect. The absolute final judge on any given legal decision is the Supreme Court, which has the power to interpret various laws and prior lower court decisions and decide whether they are constitutional and should remain unchanged, or whether they should be amended or completely stricken down. As each court hands down a decision, it sets a legal precedent which is followed by the other courts. Precedents are quite important, as they determine how certain laws are to be followed or enforced.

A very large number of cases are allowed to stand in various levels of the lower courts, and only a tiny few make it all the way up to the Supreme Court for consideration. Yet the decisions rendered by the Supreme Court have vastly wide-ranging implications, and often determine the types of future laws that state legislatures and even the U.S. Congress will enact. These are often referred to as landmark decisions because they directly affect the lives of a great many people throughout the country, as well as a number of the country’s institutions.

supreme courtThe Supreme Court has issued a number of these landmark decisions recently. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as Obamacare) was narrowly deemed constitutional last year, and this will have enormous effects on the entire country when it is fully implemented next year. The Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as being legal only between a man and a woman, was recently declared unconstitutional, which will prove to be a tremendous victory for same-sex couples who have chosen to marry one another and were previously denied certain rights or were unfairly taxed as if they were single. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, decided in 2010, was, in this blogger’s opinion, a horrendous decision that will have to be revisited again in a future Supreme Court. It effectively equated money with free speech, which even a young child can realize it is NOT, and basically lifted all restrictions and limitations on corporate campaign contributions, giving the rich and powerful a decided advantage in determining the outcome of future political campaigns. 

Other prior landmark decisions have included Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision which made abortion legal for women; Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., a 1971 ruling which forbade employers from not hiring women solely because they were mothers of pre-school children; Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 ruling which stated that anyone charged with a serious crime has the right to an attorney, and that the state must provide one if the person charged cannot afford one; Brown v. Board of Education, a 1954 decision which banned racial segregation in public schools; the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision, which stated that suspected criminals must be informed of their right to remain silent as well as their right to obtain an attorney before they can be questioned by law enforcement officials; and Loving v. Virginia,  a 1967 ruling which banned laws prohibiting interracial marriage. In addition, there have been many, many others – some good, some bad. For a complete listing of them, I urge you to Google list of landmark court decisions in the United States – Wikipedia. You will find a virtual treasure trove to explore!

As I have described, the Supreme Court makes the absolute, final decision on all legal topics. Very rarely are their decisions overturned by legislation or outright revoked, but it can and does happen on occasion. Usually, Congress will pass  legislation with a new interpretation, or one that has been nuanced differently, of a prior court ruling to achieve this end, or to pass a new Constitutional Amendment.

Supreme Court decisions have wavered between favoring individual rights and those of business interests throughout our entire history. In the years following the Civil War, weak or bought-out justices sided with business interests against regular citizens or working people. This lasted until the middle 1930s, when during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a much more liberal Supreme Court emerged. It made the great social and rconomic reforms of the New Deal possible, and radically changed life for the better for the vast majority of the country. This period of liberalism lasted well until the early 1980s, during which time workers’ rights, civil rights, and individual social rights were all broadly expanded. With the arrival of yhe Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s, Republican Presidents began appointing only conservative, pro-corporate and anti-labor judges to the Supreme Court. As the composition of the Court slowly became more conservative and corporatist, workers’ rights and individual social rights began to be curtailed. The net result of this has been a sharp decline in both the power of labor unions and in the average wage rate and buying power of the common American worker. The middle class has begun to disappear, and the ranks of the poor have started swelling. Not so coincidentally, the salaries of the average corporate CEO and big business owner have skyrocketed by comparison during this same time frame. The fundamentals of the American business system and even its tax rates have been altered to the detriment of the majority of the country.

As Presidents are the only ones allowed by law to name new Supreme Court Justices, it is vitally important that we stop electing reactionary, conservative Republicans as President! Why do I say this? Because Republican Presidents since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s have given us a steady and uninterrupted stream of ultra-conservative, anti-worker, anti-minority, and anti-individual rights justices.  It was Reagan who gave us the scrappy, combative ultra-conservative Antonin Scalia.  George H. W. Bush gave us the arrogant, sullen, and defiant Clarence Thomas. It was George W. Bush who gave us the narrow-minded far-right ideologue Samuel Alito, as well as current Chief Justice John Roberts, who, an overwhelming majority of the time, has sided with the current corporatist conservative bloc who are all determined to overturn or eradicate every important envuronmental, civil, and/or workers’ rights decisions made over the past 50+ years. This legal coup d’etat by the far, far -right must be thwarted quickly, before they succeed in weakening or eliminating such time-honored rights and traditioms as the minimum wage, overtime pay, women’s rights, as well as many other still-very-much-needed environmental regulations. If you believe – as I and many others do – that corporations and big business have grown much too big and powerful;  that individual rights are becoming too threatened by the military-industrial complex; and that this 30+ year trend of expanding pay scales only for the very wealthiest few must be stopped and even reversed, then the composition of the Supreme Court must be changed from its current 5-4 corporatist conservatibe majority to at least a 5-4 pro-people, pro-worker progressive majority instead!

The ONLY way we can achieve this is to begin electing PROGRESSIVE Presidents and STOP electing conservative Republican ones!  That, readers, is exactly WHY and HOW the Supreme Court really matters to you in your life…and why whomever you decide to send to the White House is so important!                                     

Posted in commentary, conservative Republicans, corporate greed, corporatist, hidden corporate tax on the people, Politics, Progressives, Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans, wealth disparity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments